Hermes: Journal of Linguistics vol:44 pages:229-239
Transportable identities are often extraneous in discourse, but they can be brought to the surface and made relevant, also
as a means to persuade an audience. I discuss the case of the concession speech Hillary Rodham Clinton gave on June,
7th 2008 after she lost against Barack Obama in the Democratic Primaries. In order to successfully reposition herself
from an opponent to a supporter of Obama, Clinton draws on several aspects of her transportable identity to stress the
similarity between herself and Obama. Next to focusing on the fact that they are both Democrats, Americans and human
beings, she zooms in on their membership of two powerless groups: namely that of women and African Americans.
Both from a historical and a personal perspective, these two categorizations of herself and Obama are presented in
a highly persuasive way and create unity between the two former opponents. As such, I not only show how identity,
which relates to the concept of ethos in classical rhetorical terms, is discursively constructed in a speech, but also how
it serves the argumentational goal of repositioning oneself entirely.